Structures and Mindsets

Granted, there’s probably some recency bias here, since my 2018 questions are still fresh in my mind, but I couldn’t help read:

and not see the structures+mindsets pattern in the post.

I’d actually argue that Rau’s macro framing for the piece is rather misleading or incorrect. She classifies every organization that uses autocratic, majority or consensus-based decision making as authoritarian, oppressive and therefore inherently bad/evil. I’m not sure I’m quite there. Maybe it’s because I’m likely a “constitutionalist” (Theory Y+T) and view different people’s needs as somewhat conflicting/not purely harmonious, or because my default example of an authority relationship is Heifetz’s doctor-patient relationship and I don’t view it as oppressive or bad/evil in any way.

The good news is that Rau’s making some really good points that stand in their own right and can be completely decoupled from that framing.

Her post is a great case study that demonstrates how an external organizational structure, in this case, consent-based decision making, needs to be supported by a mindset shift that’s reflected through a human behavior, in this case, non-violent communication. My three favorite excerpts from her post really drives the point across

“Lack of clarity creates open space for frustration and people’s projections, and they tend to fill them by projecting bad intentions onto others… feelings of frustration are a sign that it is time to put all needs on the table for mutual understanding and exploration. And that’s the point: only good communication can break the downward spiral of blame leading to lack of constructive information. Both sides are fully responsible and need to learn to: speak so their needs can be understood even when they are angry or insecure. listen so they understand others’ needs even when those people express their needs very silently or in a very loud way.

The mindset that supports trust is to shift from blame to curiosity. If you don’t understand why someone would choose a certain strategy, i.e. when you notice yourself thinking “Why would they do that?! That’s so stupid!”, you probably don’t have enough information. The only way to get that information is to ask. Just assuming that the other person is probably just trying to meet a need (without even having to know what need it is) already means you will be more open to taking in what is going on for that other person. Your genuine curiosity will be written on your forehead — if it is real. The message will be “ I assume you are a competent human being trying to meet your needs. Help me understand what your need is and then let’s talk about how the strategy is working for you — and me.”

You need to know what is going on for other people. If you don’t ask because you are afraid of witnessing people’s anger and frustration, you choose to ignore their reality. If you listen and have the courage to take in their anger, that’s the first step towards collective healing.

While only tangentially relevant to the topic of this post, the Marshall Rosenberg quote that Rau also mentions in her post, is just too good to not mention it here as well and wrap up:

“If you want to live in absolute hell, believe that you are responsible for what others feel” — Marshall Rosenberg

Structures and Mindsets

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